Surprise Peace Offering to Authors from Amazon and Macmillan

Many of you will remember the Amazon Buy-Button Removal War of one year ago, in which Amazon decided—in a dispute over new ebook contract terms—to blast Macmillan US by taking down all of their books, paper and e, from their catalogue. I was one of thousands of writers affected, and the memory still stings.

Well, according to this post at E-reads.com, Macmillan and Amazon have jointly decided to make reparations to authors for their estimated losses on ebook sales during that week. I don’t know how they’re calculating the estimate; I haven’t gotten my royalty statements yet. But I do appreciate the gesture. (Realistically, I don’t expect it to make much difference to me, as the reparations were only for the loss of Kindle-book sales, and where I think I got whacked the most was in my newly released paperback of Sunborn. Still, it’s a gesture they didn’t have to make.) Further, in the letter to authors reportedly enclosed with forthcoming royalty statements, Macmillan’s Sargent offers to amend ebook royalty rates to its authors to the somewhat higher, now-semistandard rate of 25% of net receipts. (That’s still not quite where they should be, in the opinion of many, but it’s a clear step in the right direction, and I’m pleased to see it come as a willing offer from publisher to author.)

Change of topic, but still on publishing and books: a reader helpfully pointed me toward this fascinating blog series by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, called The Business Rusch. (This link will kind of put you in the middle, but she has some links in the article to good places to start, depending on your interests.) A must-read for authors!

The Infinite Sea at Kindle and Smashwords

I’ve just released a new ebook edition of The Infinite Sea, the third book of The Chaos Chronicles, to the Amazon Kindle store—and to Smashwords (from which it will migrate to Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobobooks, and the Apple store). With this release, all of the Chaos Chronicles are now available for instant download in the Kindle store. Come to think of it, with this release, all of my novels are available in the Kindle store. Most of them are available in other ebook stores as well. For a complete list, see: http://www.starrigger.net/ebooks.htm.

I’ve been fiddling with the covers to make them display better at thumbnail size. (I may revisit them later, but for the moment, I think I’m done fiddling.) Here’s The Infinite Sea:

Halloween Special!
From now through October 31, you can get the first three Chaos books for 25% off at Smashwords, in your choice of formats. Just use these coupon codes:

Neptune Crossing Goes Kindle

Now—for the first time in human history!—you can download my novel Neptune Crossing direct to your Kindle, and start reading in seconds, from anywhere in the solar system that you can get Whispernet!  All for a mere $2.99, DRM-free.

This won’t seem earthshaking to those who have downloaded the book for free from my website. But for the Kindle shoppers who, until now, could browse their way wirelessly to my Kindle page and find Sunborn, but not the first three books of The Chaos Chronicles, I hope it’ll make a difference. Strange Attractors and The Infinite Sea will follow. As will uploads to other stores.

Here’s the new cover, designed by yours truly, with the help of Chaoscope. Hope you like it. [Edit: I’ve changed the type color. I liked the red, but it just didn’t show up clearly enough online. Here’s the old and the new.]

Roger Zelazny’s Alien Speedway: Clypsis in Kindle Store!

Back in the 1980s, I took on a lively and challenging project, which was to write a young adult novel based on a series outlined by one of my writing idols, Roger Zelazny. I’d never done anything like that before: sharecropping, they called it. Byron Preiss Visual Productions did a lot of that for a while. Big-name writer creates a world for newer writers to play in. Who could resist a world created by Roger Zelazny—especially when that world is a solar system dedicated to faster-than-light spaceship racing, and the protagonist is a young man whose desire to fly, and fly fast, I could feel burning in my own veins?

This turned out to be one of the best times I’ve ever had writing a book. I enjoyed the story, begun by Roger and sculpted by me, and I enjoyed the characters. It even gave me the chance to have someone believably say, “Eat dust, Earthman!” Clypsis was published by Byron Preiss through Bantam Spectra, and it got great response from readers. I got rave letters from strangers (this was before email). In the end, it was published just as an SF novel, not a YA novel. But the kid in me lived in the book.

 Clypsis cover art by Bob Eggleton

Then it went out of print. And so it remained, year after year. Byron Preiss (who owned the copyright) intended to reprint it in some fashion. Then Byron died tragically in an auto accident. His company went into bankruptcy. Eventually the literary assets were purchased by John Colby of Brick Tower Press. By this point, I had lost the trail; it took me years even to establish who owned the rights. Finally, we established contact, and I prepared the text of the book for ebook publication (with the assistance of Anne King, who had helped with several of my ebooks). And now…

It’s out! It’s in the Kindle store! The Sony store will be next. I’m not sure where else. I’m delighted to see this book return to life. And with this publication, every book I’ve written is now available in one form or another as an ebook!

Here’s a link. (If you buy it through this link, I’ll see a bit more return in the form of a referral fee. Thanks.)

Battling Up the Mountain…

My ebooks (most of them) have finally appeared in the Kindle store.  They were released to all of the other outlets last May, but some weird fubar snafu kept them from getting into the store until now.  It took lots of extra effort on the part of the folks at ereads to get it all straightened out.  And we’re still not quite there.  Dragons in the Stars is still the old version, and From a Changeling Star and Down the Stream of Stars have had the old ones taken down but not the new ones put up.  But the others are there.  At last!  Here’s the link. 

Most of them are missing the cover art, I hope just temporarily.  Here are some cover images to replace those that are missing.  And speaking of fubar snafus, I can’t seem to make the images come down here to the bottom, so that’s why they’re up on top.  Ah well.

I decided I’d been mad at Amazon long enough about the Seven Day War, so I’ve put my Amazon links back on my web site.

For other formats (and DRM-free versions), check my ebooks page.

Books Back Up at Amazon

The Seven Day War between Amazon and my publisher’s parent company Macmillan seems to be over.  Amazon restored the Buy buttons to my books last night, and by all reports to the rest of the Macmillan catalogue as well. 

Am I going to restore the Amazon links that I took down from my website?  (I didn’t go through my site methodically removing all links, but I did take down the most prominent ones.)  Let me get back to you on that.  It potentially costs me money in the form of referral fees—not a lot of money, but every little bit helps—to keep them down.  But Amazon has been behaving badly of late, and I want to think before I jump right back into bed with them. 

The tide seems to be turning in the publishing industry.  Two other giants have announced their intention to seek similar changes in the way ebooks are priced and divvied up. 

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?  I wish I knew.  I really do.

Amazon Continues to Hit Authors in the Wallet

Although Amazon staff publicly stated they were conceding to Macmillan in the big battle over ebook pricing, they still have not restored Macmillan/Tor titles to their listings. Is this a continued tantrum against Macmillan, to punish them for their negotiating position? Does Amazon care how many authors they’re harming? (I think we know the answer to that one.) I am a longtime Amazon customer and Amazon Associate, but I don’t plan to send them any more of my dollars as long as they continue this senseless war.

Since Amazon is no longer selling new copies of Sunborn, let me post some purchase links here to stores that will sell it to you. (Betterworldbooks.com is a retailer I only just became aware of. Part of their mission is to actively support literacy programs around the world. Worth checking out.)

And let me join John Scalzi in urging you to support other Macmillan authors by buying their books from other outlets!  

[Edit] Here’s a new message from Macmillan CEO John Sargent, who seems to feel that the situation may be nearing resolution. (I’m not sure I agree with his reasoning on the changes coming to publishing, but there you have it.)  Meanwhile…

Sunborn is available from:

Amazon Blinks First

The war, or at least the battle, between Amazon.com and Macmillan publishers (corporate parent of my publisher, Tor Books) ended Sunday night when Amazon conceded that it would have to accept the new terms for selling ebooks.  Last I checked, my own book still wasn’t back up for direct sale, but I trust it will be soon.

One of the best (short) commentaries on the matter is on E-reads.com, by Richard Curtis, literary agent and ebook publisher.  (He happens to be my agent and ebook publisher, but that’s not why I’m recommending his column.)  He’s been in this business for a long time, and has a pretty reliable nose for what’s happening.

Author Tobias Buckell outlines the situation pretty well from the author’s point of view. That’s a long post, but if you’re interested in learning more about how this crazy business works, it’s a good one.

And another excellent author’s view from Scott Westerfeld.

Me, I’m still annoyed at Amazon for using bombs as a negotiating ploy, especially when I’m close to one of the targets.  Actually, I’m annoyed with Amazon on several counts, including their continued failure to get my books into the Kindle store.  The hell of it is, though–I actually agree with them that cheaper ebooks will make more money for everyone, or at least for most of us.

It’ll be interesting to watch what happens when Apple truly enters the ebook business, and then there will be two gorillas in the ring. 

Amazon Pulls Sunborn…

…and a few thousand other books that happen to be published by Macmillan (of which Tor is an imprint). That’s right, if you click one of my many links to Sunborn’s page at Amazon.com, you now will see it for sale only from Amazon partners, not from Amazon itself.

According to this article from the New York Times online, Amazon has pulled Macmillan titles as the next escalation in their dispute with publishers over ebook prices and timing. (Ironically, I am more or less on Amazon’s side in that argument. But for them to do this, which they have to know is hurting authors at least as much as it hurts the publisher, seems like an act of callous arrogance.)

I’d been bugging my editor to find out when the Sunborn ebook was going to become a reality (you can still download my own ebook edition from my website), but it’s looking like the Kindle store isn’t going to be a place to buy my books anytime soon. (A side note: Amazon has been apparently unable or unwilling to process my E-reads ebooks into the Kindle store, the better part of a year after their release.)

All of which just makes me, for the moment, throw up my hands.

I do hope you’ll all encourage your friends to buy Sunborn from outlets that actually carry it on their shelves. For which I thank you.